Do Immigrant Class and Gender Affect Labour Market Outcomes for Immigrants?

From Settlement AtWork Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search
By: John Shields, Mai Phan, Fang Yang, Philip Kelly, Maryse Lemoine, Lucia Lo, Valerie Preston, Steven Tufts
Org: York University
Date: 2010

This the second analytical report produced by the Toronto Immigrant Employment Data Initiative (TIEDI). It seeks to answer the question: What is the labour market performance in terms of income, participation rate, unemployment rate and poverty rate for immigrants arriving under various immigration categories, including skilled worker principal applicants, skilled worker spouses and dependents, and for family class immigrants?


Most research comparing Canadian-born and immigrants suggest that immigrants in Canada earn less and are more likely to become unemployed in their first few years after landing. Research by Li (2003), based on 15 years of data, suggests that skilled immigrants earn more than immigrants who arrived as refugees or under the family class because of their education and skills.

Over time, the incomes of immigrants converge with those of non-immigrants, regardless of immigrant class. A possible explanation for this income parity over time is that refugee and family class immigrants may use their networks (especially relatives) in Canada to help them to find betterpaid jobs (Wanner, 2003). Such income convergence is not, however, universal. Grant (1999) shows that the income of some immigrants (across all classes) remains low.

Immigrant women are paid lower wages and have less job security than immigrant men in the Canadian labour market. Early research by Boyd (1984) found a gender gap between immigrant men and women in terms of labor market participation rates and employment. However, the difference narrowed over time. Work by Salaff and Greve (2003) on Chinese immigrants who arrived under the skilled worker class concluded that female immigrants also earn less and have fewer opportunities to regain their professional status than male immigrants. They also suggest that immigrant women often encounter a

Key Findings and Conclusions:

  • Principal applicants in the skilled worker category, both men and women, had better labour outcomes than immigrants who entered under other immigration classes. They were more likely to be employed, and be working in their area of training/education, had taken less time to find their first job, had shorter jobless spells and earned more than other groups.
  • Refugees, both men and women, faced more difficulties even four years after arrival. They were more likely to have high unemployment rates, more jobless spells, longer time taken to secure their first job in Canada, and lower earnings.
  • Immigrant men had overall better labour outcomes than immigrant women, including higher labour force participation rates.
  • Within their first four years in Canada, all immigrants had higher unemployment rates than the working population as a whole, regardless of immigration class.
  • Participation rates were generally high across immigrant classes. Refugees had the lowest participation rates, which remained low after 4 years. Four years after landing, skilled worker principal applicants had the highest average hourly wages and family income, while refugees had the lowest.

Download Do Immigrant Class and Gender Affect Labour Market Outcomes for Immigrants? in PDF format.